Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Boy talk about mood swings...after you do this pastor thing for a while you can begin to get in a bit of a groove and feel like you have pretty much seen everything...or at least enough to feel kind of prepared.  But in so many situations you really are hardly ever get by...with the grace of God...the empowering grace of God...I think one of the things that I can struggle with is I think the whole wide world revolves around me...and even without thinking I can slip into “what will this mean for me?” phase. Ever been there?  Maybe you never have visited that place but I can...
A good leader in our church was killed in a plane accident yesterday, our youth Pastor Jeremy Tate.  He and Laura had just stepped into the “official” role of youth pastor and I was so looking forward to seeing God use him to impact our kids...and he is gone.  When I began to hear the news of the plane crash I tried to deny he was on  the plane...because “I” did not want to believe it.  Then we began to realize it was him and how was “I”going to help out?  This was hard for “me” to deal with.  It was knocking “my” world for a loop and creating all kinds of emotions in me...”I” have to look good for others...but “I” did not feel good...”I” have to be strong for others...”I” sure do not feel strong...”I”have to have some answers to the questions that will be asked...”I” have no answers... This is definitely one of those times “I” tell God He should have made me smarter or at least stronger...”My grace is sufficient,” He says....  
Finally I take my eyes off of myself to make sure the real victims here are being taken care of...a wonderful wife with a beautiful smile and a great laugh...three beautiful kids at various stages of life...Jeremy was one of the best family guys I have ever been around, which is one of the reasons I was so looking forward to him working with our kids...he set an example on how ladies are to be treated and I wanted our kids to be close to that...”I” did really want that...our kids need it.  
My world  was interrupted...theirs was smashed...doesn’t compare...doesn’t compute.  So I have taken my eyes off of myself and put them where they belong...on Jesus...and this family...and I never want to take my eyes of either just cannot happen...”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.Jn.16:33              
More to come....If you have a chance look at the lyrics or listen  to the song, “How He Loves”...this song was written following an incident similar to the one that we just lived through...   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Say what?

Have you ever had a moment with God, I guess you could call that a God moment, where everything makes sense and makes no sense at the same time??  Where You are overwhelmed by God's mercy and yet starving for His grace, the grace that empowers us to do what He has called us to do...mercy draws me to God and His grace empowers me to go beyond my natural limitations.  What I cannot do on my own I can do through the grace of God...His empowering presence.   In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul is telling the church he has asked to God to take away his "thorn in the flesh" (you decide for yourself what it was) and Jesus responds, "My grace is sufficient for you..." Now if He had stopped there it would have seemed kind of callous  or uncaring on Jesus part but He goes on the say, "for my power is made perfect in weakness."  I am kind of seeing this like Paul is asking Jesus to have mercy on him and Jesus says "well I am going to do even better, I am going to give you my grace, which will empower you to live beyond what you think you can."

On many occasions I think I have prayed like Paul and have asked God to be merciful to me as I try to live in the calling He has called me to and I have missed His response..."I will do even better Bill, I will give you my grace to empower you to fulfill My call on your life."  He calls...He supplies all our could I say no?  Why would I say no?  It is like salvation I suspect...I am saved by grace through faith...I serve by grace through is not of is a gift from God.  Hmmm.  Think I will stop here and think about that for a while...will you join me?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is this fun or what?

There is a verse in Hebrews I am sure all leaders of churches love and hate but I know I have never preached it. I just read it the other day in church but blew past it pretty quickly, kind of mumbled as I read it and got to the point I was trying to make...Verse 17 of chapter 13 says, " Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give account . Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." I think for years, really I avoided the "authority' part of the verse but knew really the part about "give account." I guess I kind of hoped that at the end of the line and as I see whoever it is who lets me in at the pearly gates, if they did not say, "well done good and faithful servant" I would at least hear, "hey, nice try."

I have wrestled most of my life, I think, with low self esteem and it has carried into my role as a leader also. I think at times I would dress it up and say it was humility but as it crumbled it was a false humility at best. I loved being further down the authority list really...I enjoyed being a support person...a Joshua to Moses type...but then one day Moses was gone and now Joshua was the leader. I kind of wonder how he felt as he changed roles...I kind of suspect he was a little overwhelmed in the beginning. I looked at the first chapter of Joshua where the exchange happens and in verse, 6 God says, " Be strong and courageous...."in verse 7 God says, " Be strong and courageous.... and again in verse 9 God says, "Be strong and courageous.(then He adds) Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Now 3 times in one paragraph God tells him to be strong and have I am thinking if he was not afraid before he might be now! Then I had to laugh at the end of the first chapter the people say to Joshua, "Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so will we obey you." Is that a promise or a threat???

Anyway the only way Barb and I have been able to lead is because of that last part in verse 9, " for the Lord your God will be with you." We believe the Church is the people of God's Presence and without His presence you have no Church. We believe in "Immanuel" which means "God with us." What else is there? The cool thing about Joshua if you read about him a little is he was Moses right hand guy and when Moses went into the tent of meetings to meet with God, so did Joshua and then when Moses would leave...Joshua would stay the you think it made a difference? I do. The one area I think that has helped me the most over the years is I love to worship and be in God's presence...You cannot spend much time in His presence without being changed...or running away.

So I am no longer afraid..(most of the time)..and I have embraced my calling (finally) and as I head into my 60th year of existence I am looking forward to my best years, full of God and His blessings and His presence. I know one day I will give an account for this deal God has called me into...and I am pretty sure He is not going to ask me how big the church was and how many Sunday services we did. If He does ask anything I think it will be more like, "Did you teach my church to love me, receive my love and to give it away like I asked?" I can with some confidence say, "I sure tried." That verse in Hebrews says something about our work being a joy...Barb and I tell people all over the world, "We are having lots of fun doing what we are doing." Sooo, it has been a joy and I am looking forward to many more joyful years ahead.....


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dark day thoughts from me....

As I began the blog part of the goal was to give insight into the thought process a leader like me can go through.  While I did not come into being a pastor kicking and screaming, I also was not the kid in the class room hopping up and down with his hand wildly waving in the air yelling, “Pick me, pick me!!”  It was a simple yes…simple but still with a knowing of what could lie ahead…great fun and excitement…great pain, mixed with tears.  It is just how it is and Barb and I knew it but could still say yes…some reservation but yes the none the less.
You see, while it is so exciting to see new faces come and join the fellowship, it is painful to see some go…leave.  People leave for lots of reasons; many in our fellowship have had to move to find employment, to begin a career and a family.  Some have taken on new roles at other church bodies and others...well they have reasons...Some good reasons and understandable…but also still hard.  The Church is unique in the way it is made up and the NT has many descriptions of what the church is like…It is a family, a community, a body, etc.  Paul says in Romans 12 “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”    Think about that for a moment or two…this speaks of connectedness and belongingness (is this even a word?)  When I said yes to Jesus I not only connected to Him I was joined to the body…His body…the Church.  And I love the Church, actually we love the Church, Barb and I.  
And I know it is Jesus’ Church and He can move people as He sees fit but that does not make it easier because we are not connected just through gifts and callings…we are called to love each other… Verse 9 “Love must be sincere…10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  Maybe I am strange but I cannot love a person and be disconnected from them, I am connected…at the heart…forever.  So I know I will never adjust to saying good bye…because I am afraid if I did adjust it would mean I quit loving and I cannot afford to do that. 
Barb and I do have a huge Kingdom heart so we know God does move some of His children to strengthen another part of the Body, and we do know that some have to move to provide for their families and we also know some just move…and it all feels pretty much the same.  If we are going to receive others who come our way with open arms and love, acceptance and forgiveness then we also know we will say good bye to others…still…
I realize I have always given my heart away quickly, maybe too quickly, but it is how I am wired nevertheless.  Even as a kid or young adult, I connected at the heart very quick…it is good for my role as a pastor, I think, but I have to realize not everyone connects like I do.  So not everyone will feel what I feel…which also is a good thing I think. 
So, I l know this may seem like a bit of a downer but it is good for some of you to read how a regular guy is wired…it isn’t a downer at all. It is life.  It is the Church.  It is what I said yes to. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who knew??

I think I will stay with the servant theme for a while as I see it being so important to the Church and for church leadership.  Again I am reminded Jesus is our role model and He told the guys He did not come to be served but to serve.  I am also convinced Jesus could take the role of a servant on so easily because He knew who He was in relationship to the Father.  In John 13 we read, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He came from God and was returning to God.” He was so very secure in His Father’s love for Him that He had no reason to hold on to His deity and demand worship, instead He could serve. Matt.3:16”And a voice from Heaven said, “This is my Son Whom I love.”  Jesus very much reflected back to us the words of the Psalmist in 131, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Paul would note in Philippians two, “He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” The NASB says it this way, “But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,” 
He emptied Himself…He made Himself nothing…He is our cornerstone, our firm foundation…we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  He is described in Isaiah as a “suffering servant.” 
One of my favorite John Wimber sermons was one he called, “The Servants Knew,” and I think there is some incredible insight that he pulled from the story in John 2.  This is the story of Jesus turning the water into wine, His first recorded miracle.  This story always struck me as being a little strange and wondered the point for many years…In fact the story seems to not be all that big of a deal except the point it gives the scholars an opportunity to debate whether He turned the water into fermented, real wine or was it just really good grape juice…really…you think that is the big point here, wine or grape juice?  Well whatever it was it was really good!  Anyway, buried in the story is one line that I think is a huge point of interest for me.  “the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.”      I do not think it was an accident John included those words…the servants knew…they had been a part of the miracle…they had seen the water go in and the wine come out…they knew…Being a servant allowed them to see the behind the scenes work of our Lord and that had to be so much fun. 
I think it may still be the same today, those who serve or become servants will know what the Father is doing… They will see miracles happen…they will be included in the work of the Father…they will have more fun in the kingdom…they will see God do much with little.  That is how I feel, even about being a pastor; God will do much with little.  That is not a put down but a reminder of who is God and who is not.  I think of the story where Jesus feeds the multitude and remember that as the disciples were beginning to panic one small boy handed his lunch over to Jesus and watched it grow and grow and then he still went home with more than he started with!  I am not sure the grownups knew what was going but the child did…God can do a lot with a little.  
My desire has always been to know what the Father is doing…it seems to me being a childlike servant may be the best position to find myself in.  I also then suspect I need to be secure in the relationship I have with the Father…how much He loves me and how He called me to work in His vineyard, His church…not mine.  Is.43:1bI have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Think I will go and meditate on that for a while….

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jesus did what???!!!!

One of the most amazing stories about Jesus is found in John 13 and it is the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet.  Here He is about to walk to the cross in a few hours and one of the last things He does before He goes is serve His own followers.  Washing the feet of those entering a home was the job of the lowest servant but here there was no lowest servant only Jesus and His 12 guys.  As they sat there I wonder what they were thinking concerning someone washing their feet…Obviously none of them wanted to do the job so they all decided it would be ok the way it was…Maybe they felt too important to perform such a lowly job…In one of the gospels it says they were arguing over who among them was the greatest.  Do you think that may have started over who would wash the feet?  “It won’t be me”, says Peter, “I walk on water.”  “It won’t be me”, John says, “He really loves me the most!”  On and on it goes, bickering over who among them is the greatest…and Jesus is sitting in their midst…the One who is truly great and He gets up.
I bet they began to ask each other, “What is He doing?”  What is He going to do with that water and the towels?”  “Oh, man He is not going to do what I think He is going to do is He?”  “Never”, says Peter,” You will never wash my feet!”  “Well then you are out.”  “Out! What do you mean out? I walked on water with you!”  “Unless I wash you, you will have not part with me.”  “ Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.”  “Just your feet, Peter, just your feet.”  Then He proceeds to wash all of their feet and He says this, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
I hear people say all of the time, in fact in our movement this is one of our main themes, “We want to do the works Jesus did.”  Well I want to heal the sick also…I want the oppressed to be set free, too…I want the lame to walk and the blind to see, just like Jesus did!  But do I want to wash people’s feet?  Do I really want to be a servant?  To do the menial tasks that needs to be done to serve the larger body?  Can I go out into my community and ask, “How can I serve you?”  over “what are you doing for me?”  Rather than demanding my rights would I stand up for the rights of others?  So I am thinking if I want to do the stuff of the kingdom I need to make sure I am doing the same stuff Jesus did and He said he did not come to be served but to serve… In the Church there is this kind of attitude of being a consumer and so we look at the Bible like a menu to choose stuff out of.  So we look and say, “I want some of this and some of that, but don’t bring me any of that there stuff.” What do you mean I have to die to myself; I have needs to be met, too.  You want me to serve in the children’s area…are you kidding…get someone else to do that. I am too important to be doing that! (Now we would never say that out loud but….) Set up chairs on a Saturday…it’s my day off and my family needs me…let someone else set up chairs… well you get the point.  
I am not a bible college or seminary trained pastor…Barb and I have been trained by serving in the body of Christ in whatever area we were needed.  I have driven a church bus, taught Sunday school, worked in the nursery, led youth groups, cleaned toilets, set up chairs, counseled,(not so good at that one), led worship, led home groups, at one point in a church plant I even did the finances of the church. (that was scary)  The point is not that we are so great, but we always had this in our hearts to serve God wherever the need was, even if no one would ever know what we were doing…we were called to serve…Him and His Church…we did not know there was another option of just going to church.  And even if we had known it, that never was attractive to us.  And let me add this, it never was from a mindset of we had to in order for God to be pleased with us…it was we get to because He so loved us He invited us to participate in His stuff.   I will admit be the first to admit you won’t find setting up chairs in the Bible or working in the nursery  as a spiritual task to be done other than if you consider serving your friends as a biblical model.  Just this week I met a single mom who was really struggling with some big issues and I am glad someone set up chairs so she would have a place to sit when she got there.  I am glad someone was there to open the door for her as she came into the building.  I am glad someone was there with a smile and a warm greeting to hand her a bulletin as she came in to find a seat. I am glad someone was there to help her find a seat. I am glad that someone was praying for her even before the service began. 
I am glad to be surrounded by a group of people who understand serving is important and preferring others more than yourself is not just a good idea it is a way to live.  I am glad to know the words and works and Jesus are being taken seriously.  
Told you I was just a regular guy, didn’t I?

Francis Chan - The new middle road - RightNow Conference

Friday, March 4, 2011

TC Bank's Television Commercial: For Ordinary People With Extraordinary ...

Rainy day thinking!!!

As God put it on our hearts to lead a church, I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs I sensed the Spirit saying that we were to teach people to, “Love God, receive His love and to give it away.”  While it seemed like that would be very easy it has proved to not be so easy really.  You see when you talk about loving God and receiving His love people begin to hear, “anything goes”, and when sin is confronted the first words out of their mouth is, “Where is God’s love here?”  So they hear, God is a loving God and expects nothing from you at all….He is a forgiving God, full of grace and mercy and you cannot judge me!  Our sign on Reynolds Rd. @ the Barn said “Come as you are, you will be loved.”  And we meant it then and mean it now but I guess it should also have said, “Come as you are, but you cannot stay that way.”
2 Cor.5:17, “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone and the new has come.”  (GNT)  So I have to wonder what does it mean to love God??  What do we hear when we hear “God is love”?  When I first heard God is love I don’t think I really believed the message or at least that He loved me.  But as I came to realize God not only so loved the world, He loved me it began to transform me into a new person.  I never felt that it meant, He loves me so I can live however I wanted to…I took it to mean He loved me so much that how could I not follow Him?  Why would I choose to be disobedient to Him?  Why would I not listen to Him when He called to me?  I mean I fell often yet I did know He was there to pick me back up and get me headed in the right direction but I never wanted to continue to sin just because He is so merciful and gracious…that’s abuse!  His faithfulness should build our faithfulness.  His love for us builds our love for Him.  His mercy towards me allows me to be merciful towards others.  His grace does not give me permission to sin…it give me the strength to say no to sin! 
Now I am beginning to see the vision of people loving God, receiving His love and giving it away, mature and happen.  People will ask, “What does it mean to love God?”  Well John writes it looks like this, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And His commands are not burdensome.” 1Jn.5:3 He also writes, “You know we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” 1Jn2:3    Also Jesus own words, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  I think in the church this is what is needed.  People following Jesus...People obeying His words…  People dying to their own selves, so that He might live through them.  People saying yes to God…This is why I do what I do…be a pastor…my hope and dream is to see this happen in many lives.  To hear people say, “I love God,” and their lives support their words.  Where we no longer pray, “God let me see what you see” and then walk away to do our own thing but we actually do see what He sees because we love what He loves…and then when we see what He sees, we respond the way He would want us to. 
I read recently this challenging thought…People will on many occasions ask or say “Why doesn’t God do something about (fill in the blank)?”  And the thought came maybe He is asking us the same question, “Why aren’t you doing something about that?”  I am beginning to think that is probably a very true thought.  And I think people loving God and others will care…don’t you? Hey this leader thing might work out after all…there is hope you know.